Even if one was not disheartened by the voting atmosphere that has permeated past Hoboken elections, Dean De Chiaro’s front page article in the Feb. 23 Hoboken Reporter entitled “Hoboken’s legacy of vote-by-mail schemes” would raise legitimate concerns about voting in any future Hoboken election. In all of my 27 years in Hoboken, was any election I voted in a fair election? The pervasiveness of obvious election improprieties has acutely sickened me since actually hearing testimony in February at the New Jersey Superior Court from witnesses regarding vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots cast in the November, 2013 election that were rejected by the Hudson County Board of Elections (BoE).
The signature discrepancies on the VBMs involved bearers of those ballots. The BoE rightfully rejected those ballots because they did not comply with the rules established to ensure VBM secrecy and privacy. The testimony of witnesses I heard in court when added to the large percentage of paid “campaign workers” who cast VBMs suggests that VBMs have become a straightforward way to buy votes and has added credence to the pervasive notion that vote buying has afflicted our community for years, if not decades.
When I first moved into town in the eighties, many people were apathetic about voting because they said their vote did not matter since the election results were determined by the funding of interested parties that made sure the results went their way.
Now with the adoption in New Jersey of unrestricted absentee voting, a new, more efficient way has opened up to effectively buy elections if one has the money to pay campaign workers for their VBM votes. There were at least 14 different polling places in town in our last election giving every voter ample opportunity to vote within a short walking distance from their front door. The high percentage of paid campaign workers casting VBMs suggests that this is a mechanism to ensure that those campaign workers vote as they were paid to vote.
If one does need to vote by mail, why do so many people need a bearer to carry the ballot over to the Board of Elections in Jersey City when we have four post offices and several mail boxes all around town? Why would anyone trust their ballot with someone unless they were so incapacitated as to not be able to mail it themselves?
My own personal experience of looking into the absentee ballot voting of the last three years revealed an ever-growing volume of vote-by-mail voters who are really vote-by-bearer voters who also happen to be campaign workers. Must we live in an atmosphere where election cheating is the norm and votes are harvested from vulnerable people? Every future election in town will be tainted unless the process of who can bear a ballot and how many ballots they can bring to the county is revamped to avoid any temptations to cheat the public from an honest election. No one should cast a vote with strings attached.